Housing Minister defends the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan during Cork visit

Housing Minister defends the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan during Cork visit

The Housing Minister has defended the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan and insists that a large state-owned site in Cork, which has lain vacant for years, is being considered for housing.

But Eoghan Murphy warned that the state can’t just “throw up houses” overnight and must consider how to build communities too.

He was responding to the most recent criticism of the State’s response to the housing crisis by campaigner Fr Peter McVerry, who said Rebuilding Ireland "just isn’t working".

Mr Murphy said the supply of social housing is increasing month-on-month and that next year will be a record year in terms of delivery.

“The fundamental problem that we have is building more homes - getting supply to catch up with demand,” he said.

“But until we actually have enough homes being built we are going to continue to face this (homelessness) challenge.

“And while we face that challenge, we will continue to increase the investments that we have for people who are caught in this crisis. I want to ensure that they have every care and support.

“That’s why we work with the Peter McVerry Trust. That’s why I listen to Fr Peter when he has advice for me and that’s why we are putting in more supports next year.”

He was speaking in the shadow of the HSE-owned former St Kevin’s building on the former St Mary’s campus in Shanakiel, Cork, which has been boarded up since it was gutted by fire in 2017.

It is a strategic target of the Land Development Agency but two years on from its establishment, there are few signs of progress.

Mr Murphy defended the pace of progess but said the state can’t just “throw up homes”.

“When we build a home today, we want it to last for 100-years,” he said.

“So we have to think, are we building it in the right place, to the right standards and specifications?

"And are we making sure that as we build physically, are we also building communities.

"Because if we leave people stranded in unfinished housing estates, in housing estates with no transport, schools or shops, or in homes they can’t afford, then we will repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The Minister later visited the €16m Deanrock housing scheme in Togher, on the southside of the city, where 15 of its 65 homes have been completed. The rest should be ready by the end of the year.

The city council’s director of housing, Brian Geaney, said it is a huge addition to the area which will stand the test of time.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has urged people to join a housing protest outside Cork City Hall at 5pm on Monday.

Their Cork North Central by-election candidate, Cllr Thomas Gould, said the housing system is broken but can be fixed with better policies.

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